Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Six-Word Scary Story Starters

Spooky Season is upon us and six-word stories are all the rage!  Here are (32) Six-Word Scary Story Starters to keep the spooky in your writing.   

Six-Word Scary Story Starters

1) Three people enter cave.  Two leave.

2) Babysitter needs job.  Loves kids.  Kinda.

3) Looks in the mirror.  No mouth.

4) Beautiful house.  Backyard cemetery.  For sale.

5) App downloads virus - in its users.

6) Mechanical pencil erases mistakes.  And memory.

7) Neighborhood has party.  Hosts are vampires.

8) Creepy basement.  Rickety staircase.  No escape.

9) Circus clowns revolt.  No one laughs.

10) Wife wakes up.  Husband does not.

11) Adorable puppy turns into demonic dog.

12) Selfie pics sent by unknown user.

13) Found: Mason jar with unknown species

14) Girl keeps swinging.  She’s not alive.

15) Grieving scientist clones deceased wife.  Oops.

16) They entered the elevator.  That’s all.

17) Purchased antique painting.  Haunted.  Buyer’s remorse.

18) Couple has nightmares.  They come true.

19) Museum coffin won’t open.  Pounding inside.

20) Peaceful ocean swim.  Dorsal fin.  Ouch!

21) Clock runs backwards.  Time does too.

22) Tour guide loses group.  On purpose.

23) Locked doors and windows.  Forgot one.

24) Perfect suburban neighborhood.  Until freak accidents.

25) Doorbell rings.  Gift.  Worst present ever!

26) New boyfriend.  Neither boy or friend.  

27) Office coffee maker brews deadly decaf.

28) Children’s voices fill park.  No kids.

29) Vacationers open their suitcase.  It bites.

30) Quiet road.  Abandoned car.  Open door.

31) Feeling the creepy crawlies.  Spiders everywhere!

32) Voices heard upstairs.  Everyone is downstairs.

Teach English?  Teens and tweens love to be scared! Now your students can apply the six-word writing prompt and create their own scary stories with engaging (32) Six-Word Scary Story Starter Task Cards. These task cards are sure to generate rich narratives from your students as they combine story elements (setting, dialogue, conflict, etc.) with their own innate creativity. Perfect for Halloween, Creative Writing class, or any other time!

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Celebrating the Freedom to Read

What do Captain Underpants, Harry Potter, and To Kill a Mockingbird have in common?  They're all banned books!

Some of the other most "challenged books" of 2018 according to librarians and teachers across the country are:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Reasons: banned and challenged because it was deemed “anti-cop,” and for profanity, drug use, and sexual references

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Reasons: banned, challenged, and restricted for addressing teen suicide

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: banned and challenged for sexual references, profanity, violence, gambling, and underage drinking, and for its religious viewpoint

Which brings me to the are the top ten:

1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

2. The Catcher in the Rye

3. To Kill a Mockingbird

4. Bridge to Terabithia

5. The Lord of the Flies

6. Of Mice and Men

7. The Color Purple

8. Harry Potter Series

9. Slaughterhouse Five

10. The Bluest Eye

Banned Books Week 2019 will be held September 22 – 28. The theme of this year’s event proclaims “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark,” urging everyone to “Keep the Light On.”

Pick up a banned book this week and celebrate the freedom to read!!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Silver, Steam, and Lasagna at MidSouth SCBWI Conference

I had another amazing time at the Annual MidSouth S.C.B.W.I. Conference this weekend!

Highlights were, of course, seeing old and meeting new writing pals.  (As anyone can attest, writing can be a lonely business, so collaboration and support are so important).  I also had the honor of monitoring Dave Connis's presentation, "How Characters are Like Lasagna" on the multilayers of character building.  And finally, the conference culminating festivity - the Silver and Steam Gala Dinner, which was just tons of fun!  

Love my MidSouth S.C.B.W.I. writing community!!

Dave Connis "How Characters Are Like Lasagna"

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Killer Nashville Targets Teens and Tweens

As always, I had a fabulous time being a panelist at Killer Nashville this weekend!  Author/Filmmaker Clay Stafford does an amazing job bringing together forensic experts, writers, and fans of crime and thriller literature, along with panelists who discuss the suspense element in children's books, tween, and YA literature.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

A Parent's Guide to Surviving Middle School

Back to school is right around the corner.  Only this time your child is entering middle school – that rite of passage where they will undergo academic, social, and developmental challenges like never before.  While your eager middle schooler is raring to go, you may be secretly asking yourself if you’re truly ready for this auspicious journey.  The answer is Yes!  With today’s challenges, middle school may seem like the new high school, but below are six tips on how to make the transition seamless for both you and your child.  Get your brave on and learn how to survive (and thrive) as a parent of a middle schooler…

6 Steps to Swinging Into Middle School With Ease

Prepare:  Middle school isn’t exactly The Hunger Games – but you will fare much better if you know the rules.  Procure a copy of the school’s handbook and read it, ideally with your child.  Be familiar with the school’s policies.  For instance, does the school have a dress code?  Is there a general class supplies list?  What is the protocol for absences, medications, cell phone usage, etc.?  Make sure to complete all emergency card information with several contacts and up-to-date phone numbers for easy communication.  

Volunteer:  Join the PTA, PTO, or Booster Club.  Introduce yourself to the principal, counselor, and teachers letting them know you are available to assist wherever needed.
With school funding at a premium, some ways parents can help are volunteering in the computer lab, chaperoning field trips, selling concessions, leading a book club, or supervising dances.  If working with students one-on-one, be sure to check the district’s policy on parent volunteer fingerprinting and/or background checks.

Be a Study Buddy:  Check homework once a week or more if your child is struggling. Designate a study time and place free of distractions with adequate supplies, including pencils, paper, dictionary, and calculator.  Calendar long-term projects, and be available for assistance or hire a tutor if needed.  Many schools offer free after-the-bell tutoring programs or intervention services.  Encourage and teach time management and organization skills – before social networking, cell phone, and television time.

Communicate:  In elementary school, teachers call home if there is an academic issue, but in middle school the report card is often a parent’s first notification that their child is struggling.  To avoid Report Card Shock Syndrome and address problems early on, attend Back-to-School Night and all parent/teacher conferences.  Introduce yourself to your child’s teachers, provide email contact information, and let them know you want to work as a team.  In middle school, each teacher has their own way of posting homework, grading, and communicating with parents.  Ask for a copy of the class syllabus. Communication is key to your child’s success.

Get Social:  Your child’s circle of friends will most likely be at the top of their priority list. This is a good time to rally your own parental BFF’s, if nothing else for moral support.  In short, get to know the parents of your child’s friends.  Arrange a lunch to establish common norms for sleepovers, social networking, etc.  Discuss bullying and implementing appropriate safety precautions.  Talk over the school’s vision and what you can do as parents to make it the best place it can be.

Be a Cheerleader:  As your child enters middle school, he or she will tackle academic, social, and peer related issues.  There will be laughter and there will be tears.  Let your child know that you are their greatest fan and support.  Encourage their strengths and interests with extracurricular activities such as clubs, sports, band, and foreign language. When a problem arises, be there to help but also just to listen.  At the end of the day, sometimes a tween just needs a sympathetic ear.  Middle school is a challenge, but never let your child forget that you are their ultimate BFF and secret cheerleader.

Have a tween going into middle school?  Make sure they feel positive and prepared with Lucy and CeCee's How to Survive (and Thrive) in Middle School: 

This nostalgic read is both fun and informative in its perspective of middle school existence. The author's use of tweenie vernacular adds to character development and theme relevance.  - Readers Favorite

(Dana) knows her audience well, and has pitched this book to them perfectly, packing useful information into a fun, frothy read....Any sixth grade girl who's facing middle school as if it were a firing squad will find great comfort here.  Both entertaining and useful, How to Survive is a winner.  Starred Review - BlueInk Review 

Lucy and CeCee's guide to middle-school survival is a fast-paced, funny, and insightful book that will serve to clarify typical teen lingo and behavior for adults and give guidelines to tween and teenage kids who are having trouble navigating the middle-school milieu. - Clarion Reviews

But while the girls' teachings are often amusing, what really makes Dana's book exceptional are the girls themselves....Lucy and CeCee's target audience may consist solely of tweens, but this is a book that can educate readers of any age. - Kirkus Reviews

With plenty of humor and adventure, "Lucy and CeCee's How to Survive (and Thrive) in Middle School" is a strongly recommended addition to young adult fiction collections, not to be missed.  - Midwest Book Review

Monday, May 20, 2019

Build Your Stack for the Summer Sizzle

As we all fondly recall, summer vacation is the ultimate!  Staying up late into the night, basking in the golden sun, slurping up frothy ice cream concoctions, and yes - hopefully reading a good book or two or three...or three in one day.  And why not?  It's summer, after all.

Here is my 2019 sizzling summer read picks for tweens and teens.  The list includes some classics and some contemporary, depending on personal choice.  Either way, tweens/teens will have a blast getting their read on!!!

Kimberly's 2019 Summer Reading List for Tweens and Teens

1) The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver

2) Lord of the Flies - William Golding

3) The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros

4) Shout - Laurie Halse Anderson

5) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou

6) New Kid - Jerry Craft

7) On the Come Up - Angie Thomas

8) The Best of Roald Dahl - Roald Dahl

9) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie

10) The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

11) Funny in Farsi - Firoozeh Dumas

12) Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Celebrate National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world.

Why should we devote an entire month to honor words written in verse?  Because poetry is the language of the soul.  When life drowns us with its dark moments, poetry throws us a raft – a verbal sanctuary of healing and beauty.

So I urge you to release your inner poet and succumb to the sensory language, rhythm, flavor, call and response of poetry.  Feel the human spirit and universality of life's shared stories in a stanza.  Read or write a poem this month.  Restore your spirit.  Restore your soul.

Ten Favorite Poems

  1. “Sick” – Shel Silverstein
  2. “Phenomenal Woman” – Maya Angelou
  3. “Annabel Lee” – Edgar Allan Poe
  4. “Oranges” – Gary Soto
  5. “The Road Not Taken” – Robert Frost
  6. Sonnet 130 – William Shakespeare
  7. “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” – Robert Herrick
  8. “The Kiss” – Sara Teasdale
  9. “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” – Dylan Thomas 
  10. Fragment 31 – Sappho

April Challenge:  Write a Cinquain

A cinquain is five line poem that follows this lyrical pattern:

1) a word for the title
2) two adjectives
3) three verbs
4) a phrase
5) the title again – or synonym


Dark or milk
Smooth, silky, sweet
Best thing ever

Large, mysterious
Watching, rolling, blinking
Tell more than words

Short, sweet
Five, simple steps
Maybe not so easy…

Teaching poetry?
Kick start your poetry unit with my Poetry Jumbo Bundle for everything you need!